Project - L'Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science 2021



Investor in Education

Project description

Project Aim

Women scientists are leading ground-breaking research across the world. But despite their remarkable talent and contribution to discoveries, they still represent just 33% of researchers globally, and their work rarely gains the recognition it deserves. Less than 4% of Nobel Prizes for science have ever been awarded to women, and only 11%* of senior research roles are held by women in Europe. Furthermore, the profession of a researcher is among the most underrated in Bulgaria both in terms of public recognition and payment rates. The main goals of the For Women in Science program is therefore to support female scientists in their careers, to recognize their scientific potential, to encourage more young ladies in Bulgaria to choose a career in science and to promote discoveries in general.

Project Target Group

The project is targeted at young female scientists with research work in the field of natural sciences. All applicants under the program should be Bulgarians, up to 35 y.o. with a PhD degree or in the process of obtaining one. To promote the program, organizers rely on support from the scientific community all over the country, universities, relevant institutions, and local media.

Project Duration

The For Women in Science initiative has a long history worldwide and plays crucial part in L’Oreal’s long-term corporate social responsibility strategy. Ever since it was launched in 1998 in partnership between L’Oreal and UNESCO, the program aims to support science progress, to promote the role of women in science and diversity. From the start of the initiative in Bulgaria in 2010 until today the program has recognized 30 talented women researchers.

Project Activities

2021 was a special year for the For Women in Science program in Bulgaria, because the number of recognized ladies reached 30 and the allocated award fund – 150 000 euros! In addition, the projects of the awarded women were beyond impressive – incl. coronavirus treatment, cost-effective green energy storage and plant-based healing of neurodegenerative diseases. The importance of all these winning projects proved once again the crucial need for female scientists to be supported. Or as the motto of the program goes: the world needs science and science needs women! In 2021, the program activities were held throughout the whole year as the project partners carried out a communication strategy for its promotion among all local scientific communities with support from the Ministry of Education, scientific institutions, and media. The peak of the project was in December, when the 2021 winners were awarded at a special ceremony attended by the Vice President of Bulgaria, the Ombudsman, the Ministry of Education, UNESCO, Sofia University, scientists, and media. Its purpose was to provide Bulgarian women in science with a deserved recognition and to promote the general need of science

Project Results

So far, 30 Bulgarian female scientists have been recognized and awarded with fellowships totaling 150 000 euros. The applicants’ interest remains strong every year as in 2021 a 10% growth in the number of received applications was registered from scientists outside Sofia. The great media & public interest towards the program (over 200 articles in 2021) also contributes to boost the local popularity of the profession ‘scientist’ and trigger national discussions of the importance of science.